Great thoughts this morning from Michael Simmons:

“If you think you know everything, you will learn nothing. If you think you know nothing, you will learn everything.”

Have you ever felt that you knew something, but then got tongue tied when you tried to explain it to someone else?

This is actually a good thing.

Teaching reveals gaps in our knowledge. When we’re aware of those gaps, we become more humble, and we ask more questions.

Decades of research in the field of expert performance shows that being able to recognize one’s own mistakes is critical to becoming world-class. Anders Ericsson, one of the pioneers in the field, explains why in his book Peak:

“Several researchers have examined what differentiates the best musicians from lesser ones, and one of the major differences lies in the quality of the mental representations the best ones create. When practicing a new piece, beginning and intermediate musicians generally lack a good, clear idea of how the music should sound, while advanced musicians have a very detailed mental representation of the music they use to guide their practice and, ultimately, their performance of a piece. In particular, they use their mental representations to provide their own feedback so that they know how close they are to getting the piece right and what they need to do differently to improve. The beginners and intermediate students may have crude representations of the music that allow them to tell, for instance, when they hit a wrong note, but they must rely on feedback from their teachers to identify the more subtle mistakes and weaknesses.”

In summary…

  • In order to improve, we need to be able to recognize our mistakes.
  • When we’re beginners in a field, it can be hard to notice subtle mistakes, and therefore, it can be hard to improve on our own.
  • Teaching provides an excellent way for us to quickly get feedback on our knowledge gaps without depending on a mentor or coach.

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